Pond, Elizabeth
October 1973
Foreign Affairs;Oct73, Vol. 52 Issue 1, p141
This paper explores key issues surrounding Japan-Soviet Union relations in 1973. As Japanese see it, there are several reasons for Soviet caution. The predominant view at the Japanese Foreign Ministry is that conditions have changed so much in the past two or three years--with the sudden oil crisis balanced against the new weight of Japan in a multipolar world--that Moscow's Japan policy cannot now be decided at the working level. And in the international balance, despite Marxist dialectics, Moscow does not really accept the thesis of the new preëminence of economic power and the declining value of military power, and may therefore discount Japan's importance. Whatever Moscow's strategic decision on Japan is or will be, there is an additional element of plain tough bargaining between the two countries for the best possible business deal on Siberian development. On the Japanese side the approach to Soviet relations is basically pragmatic. By 1972, however, the changes in multipolar diplomacy, the oil crisis and Japan's embarrassing surplus of foreign reserves all combined to revive interest in a much larger scheme: joint development of the Soviet Union's largest oil fields in Tyumen Province. One big drawback to joint Siberian development, as far as the Russians are concerned, is the risk of letting capitalist influences loose on such a big scale in the Soviet economy and society. However, the Japanese believe the Russians are basically ready to take this plunge.


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